Stuffed green peppers
Looking back at the years my husband Van and I spent together, and the friends we made during those days, I think perhaps only a few of about 50 people I recall who are still with us. One of those now gone was Sam, a card playing and fishing buddy of Van’s.
They met at a Masonic meeting in the town near our new home high up in the mountains of Idaho. After just a few hours, we invited Sam and his wife May to our home the next Saturday for dinner. Van knew I’d be glad to cook a nice meal for new friends. I remember making fried chicken and had tried a new recipe for a special homemade cake. May asked for the recipe.
We talked at length about cooking at our higher elevation where we had problems. May then invited us the following weekend to their home for what she called her specialty, stuffed green peppers. I’ve tried, over the years since May left this world, to duplicate her dish. I’ve never been successful. She stuffed them with a mixture of ground lamb and spices, surrounding everything with regular canned cream of mushroom soup.
May used a very low oven temperature and left the peppers in her oven for a good two hours. They were sooo good. Mine never came close to hers. We got to know Sam and May well over the next few years, spending hours playing cards. There were a few problems I’ll explain. Not BIG problems, but little annoyances that picked away at times since I love to fish and I read a great deal.
May didn’t do either. Well, she didn’t do the same kind of “reading” I did.
May had a bookshelf in their living room, consisting almost entirely of what I call romance novels. You know, those kind of publications that show a longhaired hero holding a half fainting woman, the kind that’s story line includes how they hate each other in the first chapter and fall madly in love by the end of the last chapter.
Please forgive me. I dislike those types of stories and prefer reading history or mystery novels. May was a whiz at playing cards and a tremendous cook. However, she did something every single time we all got together. I don’t know how, or why. She always managed to tell us how she still wore size eight slacks, the same size she wore before having her six children. I admit being envious. Wouldn’t you be too?
After five sons, I hadn’t gotten into that size for many years. It became a game wondering when May would inject this into the conversation. She even had one pair of absolutely beautiful slacks she still had after all of those years. However, I had my famous leg of lamb dinner. Van wanted the lamb barbecued. Instead, I cooked it in the oven after stuffing it with garlic then surrounding the lamb with onions, celery, carrots and potatoes.
While the meat rested I made gravy. Then the four of us settled down to dinner. The meat was so good there wasn’t enough left combine with beans later. It was that good. Then there was the time the four of us went to another small town close to where we lived. Those folks had a yearly ice statue contest in a climate that often pushed below zero. Where else would you do this?
Van was driving us as we went to pick up our friends. When Sam and May came out of their home I couldn’t believe my eyes. May was dressed in boots with regular thin leather soles, her usual polyester slacks, regular leather gloves, a wool cap, a silk scarf and a coat with only a silk lining. She was going to freeze to death. Of course I looked like Nanook from Alaska.
Instead, I was wearing sensible boots, extra thick slacks, and a wool cap pulled down over my ears, extra thick gloves and a coat that could keep three people warm.
I spent the entire three hour visit trying to see the exhibit as May pulled me into every bar and restaurant across from the show just so that she could get warm.
Finally, to see the ice sculptures, I left May in the last bar on the block, with a hot toddy in her hand. I loved that silly, “I’m always stylish” woman. After all, she did make great stuffed peppers.
Edna Van Leuven is a Churchill County writer and LVN columnist.